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A syntactic universal and its consequences

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Anders Holmberg



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This paper investigates the Final-over-Final Constraint (FOFC): a head-initial category cannot be the immediate structural complement of a head-final category within the same extended projection. This universal cannot be formulated without reference to the kind of hierarchical structure generated by standard models of phrase structure. First, we document the empirical evidence, logically possible but cross-linguistically unattested combinations of head-final and head-initial orders. Second, we propose a theory, based on Kayne’s (1994) LCA, where FOFC is an effect of the distribution of a movement-triggering feature in extended projections, subject to Relativized Minimality.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Biberauer T, Holmberg A, Roberts I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Linguistic Inquiry

Year: 2014

Volume: 45

Issue: 2

Pages: 169-225

Print publication date: 01/04/2014

Online publication date: 28/04/2014

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

Date deposited: 23/04/2012

ISSN (print): 0024-3892

ISSN (electronic): 1530-9150

Publisher: MIT Press


DOI: 10.1162/LING_a_00153


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